ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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What's So Great about Data?

A Call to Re-examine the Relationship between Science and Society

The Reinhart-Rogoff controversy shows us why we need to re-examine the relationship between scientific inquiry and society.

In this short article I seek to contribute to the debate about an influential paper that has been used to justify the implementation of austerity measures in debt-ridden countries. I attempt to raise a number of questions on the broader implications for knowledge that have been brought into focus due to this debate.

The debate in question surrounds a paper written by two internationally recognised scholars in the field of economics, and debt in particular, who live and work in the United States. Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff’s original paper titled “Growth in a Time of Debt” has been widely used as crucial evidence by advocates calling for austerity measures as a means of stimulating growth in countries with high levels of debt (in economic terms, high debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratios) (Reinhart and Rogoff 2010). Although widely used by the advocates of pro-austerity measures, Reinhart and Rogoff’s paper had received a great deal of criticism from other economists and analysts.1

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